At the first meeting Serwa asks clients to grade their lives, scoring themselves in 25 areas of their lives such as love, career, motivation, weight and confidence on a scale of one to 10, one being unsatisfied to 10 feeling satisfied. The last category on the list is general happiness. “The funny thing is that nine times out of 10 this final score is the exact average of all the other scores,” says Serwa.
“People ask me what is the secret to happiness. There is no secret! Happiness depends on how satisfied you are in other areas of life. If you’re satisfied, you’re happy. It’s so simple.”
As well as the happiness scoresheet, Serwa also spends the first meeting assessing his potential client. “I’m scanning them, evaluating them, reading them,” he explains. “I need to make a decision if I want to work with them. They do the same with me.”
Most of Serwa’s clients are “older, highly respected and accomplished,” he says – and very successful. He’s worked with two presidential candidates, but won’t reveal what country they’re from. Somebody who’s in a bad place in their lives is not someone who will benefit from Serwa’s skills.
“Let’s separate life coaching from therapy,” he explains. “I don’t work with dysfunctional people. Life coaching is designed for people who want to go from the functional to the exceptional level. Typically I work with people who already score themselves from eight to 10.”
Stereotypically, high-powered, wealthy, successful people are not the kind of characters who find it easy to admit weakness and ask for help.
“Yes and no,” says Serwa. “Actually, most CEOs do have experience of life coaching, especially in America where it’s becoming more and more acceptable. When people started having personal trainers in the gym years ago we found it strange, but now people brag about their trainer. In my lifetime I hope life coaching will reach a similar status. Nobody is hiding this anymore.”
However, for some, life coaching is still a taboo subject. “I do encounter people who want to keep it a secret,” says Serwa. “One client didn’t tell his wife he was seeing a life coach and it took him three years to admit it to her. But some clients are totally open about it. One guy used to tweet he was coming to see me on the way to our meetings. His attitude was, ‘every athlete has a coach.’ For him there was absolutely no stigma.”
So let’s get down to brass tacks. What’s this going to cost? “Well, it’s not cheap,” Serwa says with surprising honesty. “I charge between £10,000 and £35,000 for sessions of between three and 12 months. I don’t charge per session. Typically most people see me for three months. I can sort most problems in three months.”
For such a sum, clients get Serwa 24/7. “Clients can WhatsApp me anytime but they can’t call me anytime. To be honest, my clients are busy people so they wouldn’t have time to call me anyway. Half of them I never hear from, but they know I’m committed. A life coach is not to be confused with a shoulder to cry on, or a babysitter.”
Serwa’s level of commitment is striking. “The trickiest period of my life is Sunday because I don’t see clients face to face,” he chuckles. “I don’t feel like I’m doing enough. Holidays are tricky too, I get bored. I miss work.”
Serwa remembers a magazine article with one of his heroes, Richard Branson in which he was asked about his work/life balance. “He said work and life was one,” says Serwa. “I agree with him. I don’t dread Monday mornings. I look forward to them because I’m doing what I love.”
Is this devotion to his work healthy?
“I don’t really care what people think,” he shrugs. “Society is dumb, broke and miserable. I don’t care about society. I listen to myself. What do I want? What makes me happy? I have more fun working than not working. Nothing is more important in my life than my work.”
Does he get tired or mentally drained? He laughs at the idea. “Do I sound tired? I don’t think so. I feel alive.”